Right now it’s raining—the first rain since we arrived five days ago, and fine with me since it’s been so hot the past two.
One thing you might read in a guidebook is that the Dutch are, statistically, the tallest people in Europe (or is it the world?). And trust me: it’s true. The day I spent an hour at Delft train station I just people-watched and thought at least eight times: THAT is the tallest man I have ever seen. (Five minutes later: repeat.) And the night of the World Cup semifinal, we were in this bar/club called Speakers, and there was this person in front of me who was super-tall and wearing a big Heineken hat besides so to become enormous; and then another guy asked that person to remove said hat because it was blocking the TV screen and the person obliged and… it was a woman! The tallest woman I have ever seen. I had completely thought it was a man until the hat came off. Good grief, they grow them tall here.
So today, Saturday, we had planned to buy bicycles. Our initial plan was to buy cheap (E50 or less) and then in a couple months after figuring out the lay of the land and what is likely to be stolen, buy better bikes.
After one shop, which turned out to be closed, our first stop was a secondhand store we found online, Flinstones. It was a warehouse-like space crammed floor-to-ceiling with used… stuff. Vacuum hoses, teakettles, baby seats, romance novels, etc. Literally every inch occupied except for small walkways for shoppers. They had a dozen or so bikes, crammed in tightly so that when we attempted to extract one, we nearly caused a domino effect of falling bicycles. The bicycles, frankly, also appeared to be really worn out: deformed tires, some rusting, archaic frames… all for E75-100! Though I looked briefly at a pink women’s ride, my thought is: if I’m getting a cheap bike, it’d better be cheap. IE, not 75 Euros. We left Flinstones without bikes and feeling slightly in need of a shower.
Our next stop was a shop more in the city center where yet another man named Cees had only a few secondhand bikes, but amiably showed us several models. The funny thing was: as Cees explained, we were too short for most of the bikes. If you don’t know me in person, I’m about 5’4 ½”, and Cees said he had only one bike for me if I wanted to touch the floor with my feet. It was a nice bike, but it was new and closer to E200, so we said we’d think about it. Tim (on the shorter side for a guy) had a limited selection also, as the Dutch seem to be six feet minimum. Cees was really helpful, and I’d like to buy a bike from him, but since our price range had jumped so far so fast, we said we’d think on it.
Apparently the style of bike I prefer (pedal brakes, simple, upright) is called an “oma fiet”—a grandma bike. Awesome. These old-style bikes are very trendy right now, so I’m confident with my oma style.
In conclusion, we’re shorter than average here, and we’ll be without rides for a few more days at least. All shops are closed Sundays and many on Mondays. Sunday it’s off to try out a church and maybe to Amsterdam to meet a friend and watch the World Cup finals. We exercised our Skype today with my parents and brother, and used MLB.TV to watch the Red Sox. It was a little dangerous how much it made me miss Boston! But all is well and it’s off to bed on a rainy Saturday night in Delft.